A sneak peek at Compaq's "power-busting" handheld

Summary:New models will offer 64MB of memory and a dual-card expansion pack, according to information inadvertently posted on Compaq's Web site.

In a more aggressive push into the corporate market, Compaq Computer is preparing to release a more robust version of its iPaq handheld.

The new model will offer "a power-busting 64MB" of memory and the option of a wireless networking card and an expansion sleeve capable of using two PC cards simultaneously, according to information inadvertently posted on Compaq's site. Most handhelds come with, at most, 32MB of memory.

"It just got out a little bit before we planned to announce it," a Compaq representative said Tuesday. An official announcement is expected within 30 days. Pricing is not final, the representative said, but the beefed-up product will cost more than the current versions. Compaq's current color model sells for $499.

Compaq's site also said that future add-on cards will turn the iPaq handheld into a global positioning system or allow it to hook directly into a corporate network.

The iPaq runs on Microsoft's Pocket PC operating system. Microsoft has been touting devices that use its OS as better suited for large businesses, while Palm has been working aggressively to boost its ability to serve corporate customers. On Tuesday, Palm said it will acquire mobile data management company Extended Systems in a stock deal valued at roughly $264 million.

On the consumer side, Palm OS-based devices still dominate, although Compaq and other Pocket PC devices saw a slight uptick in January retail sales, according to PC Data.

The research firm said that Compaq's share of the retail market was 4 percent in January, roughly double its share in December. Palm controls more than 60 percent of the retail market, and Palm OS licensees control another roughly 30 percent of the market.

In January, Compaq released a monochrome version of its iPaq. The company also acknowledged in January that a glitch with a memory upgrade had left some color iPaqs inoperable, forcing them to be returned to Compaq for repair.

Topics: Hewlett-Packard, Hardware, Microsoft, Operating Systems, PCs, Software

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